Access at the Internet Governance Forum

With the theme of “Connecting continents for enhanced multistakeholder Internet governance,” the ninth annual meeting of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is taking place in Istanbul, Turkey, 2-5 September 2014. Access staff is there, participating in a variety of pre-events, workshops, and high-level meetings.

The IGF is the annual policy dialogue which bring together representatives from various stakeholders from government, civil society, academia, private sector, and the technical community. It was first convened in 2006 by the United Nations Secretary General, and it continues to be a central gathering for digital rights advocates around the globe. 

The 2014 IGF comes at a critical moment for internet governance, with some key meetings and announcements having occurred since the beginning of the year such as:

More meetings are planned to discuss much-needed reform of global internet governance, including:

Turkish Civil Society Reaction to the IGF in Istanbul: The UnGovernance Forum
Meanwhile, Turkish internet users and activists are frequently subject to censorship and digital rights violations (such as the 67-day-long YouTube ban) due to restrictive government policies. Some Turkish civil society groups and digital rights advocates have been frustrated at the inability for the IGF to directly confront this problem, and have decided to boycott this year’s event. 

This reaction, combined with a lack of full Turkish civil society participation in the IGF, helped give rise to the Internet UnGovernance Forum (IUF). The event takes place on September 4 and 5 (see the official website for details) and will feature events and sessions that will compliment the official IGF proceedings. 

Here’s a guide to the panels and events that Access is organizing, co-organizing, and participating in:

Digital Security Clinic
Day 1 [September 2] all day. (IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Day 2 [September 3] all day. (IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Day 3 [September 4] all day. Internet Ungovernance Forum [Bilgi University Santral Campus]
Day 4 [September 5] all day. Internet Ungovernance Forum [Bilgi University Santral Campus]

Access’ digital security helpline staff will be hosting clinics both at the IGF and the UnGovernance Forum. At these clinics conference participants can engage helpline staff with questions and concerns they have about their current digital security practices, needs, capacities. By providing one-on-one consultations, we aim to support participants as they examine their digital security practices and provide the resources necessary for them to secure.

Open Forum on the Guide on Human Rights for Internet Users [Access presenting as panelist]
Day 2 [Wednesday, September 3] 09:00-10:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Room 9
This Open Forum, organized by Council of Europe, aims to discuss the role and future implementation of the Guide on Human Rights for Internet Users, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council in April 2014. The guide aims to “serve as a reference for all the stakeholders interested in promoting and guaranteeing the full enjoyment of human rights online.” Throughout the discussion, panelists will discuss important issues such as different multistakeholder mechanisms to empower internet users in order to ensure the full enjoyment of their rights and the ways through which non-European stakeholders can use the Guide.

Main/Focus Session: Network Neutrality: Towards a Common Understanding of a Complex Issue [Access presenting as panelist]
Day 2 [Wednesday, September 3] 14.30 – 17.30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center] 
Main Meeting Hall
The ninth IGF aims to better link with other internet governance processes such as NetMundial (see our review here). During that event, the IGF was identified as the appropriate forum to discuss the ever-pressing issue of Net Neutrality.
Appropriately, this year’s IGF will be addressing Net Neutrality in multiple ways. Access will be participating in a main-stage event on the issue, and we’ll also take advantage of IGF as the perfect setting to strategize with various civil society partners to find a joint approach to ending network discrimination. 
As is the case for all of the main sessions at the IGF, the main Net Neutrality session will feature live transcription in English, interpretation in all six UN languages, and will be streamed live online. 

Launch of the GISWatch Report 2014 [Access presenting]
Day 3 [Thursday, September 4] 1:00 – 2:30 IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Galata Hall/Rumeli Terrace
This significant report, which focuses on global mass surveillance, will be released at this event. Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) has produced reports yearly since 2007. This year’s edition of GISWatch is entitled “Communications Surveillance in the Digital Age.” The report contains detailed input and analysis from civil society representatives in more than 55 countries. Access, as one of the “watchers,” will be there.

Developing Countries Participation in Global IG (No. 114) [Access speaking]
Day 3 [Thursday, September 4] 4:30 – 6:00 IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 05 (Rumeli -1 Floor/Room 3)
The session will seek to analyse the current situation in global internet governance discussions and seek recommendations in ensuring that developing countries effectively participate in global internet governance debates.

Youth Coalition on Internet Governance Meeting [Access co-moderating]
Day 4 [Friday, September 5] 09:00 – 10:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 05 
The Youth Coalition on Internet Governance is a Dynamic Coalition of the IGF and is an open group of organizations and individuals representing all stakeholders that work together for a better youth participation and involvement on Internet Governance discussions and debates. This 2014 meeting is aimed to rejuvenate the YCIG, bringing new leadership and set up a strategical plan for the next 3 years. The meeting will involve new members working on setting new goals for the coalition and ensuring the transition. It will follow a roundtable format and Access will be co-moderating.

Dynamic Coalition on Core Internet Values [Access presenting]
Day 4 [Friday. September 5] 11:00 – 12:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 10
The fifth IGF meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Core Internet Values, which originated in the IGF Egypt 2009, will focus on the role of stakeholder contribution to preserve core Internet Values. Access will be there to take part in this multistakeholder discussion. 

Round table for organizers of workshops on enhancing digital trust and the internet and human rights [Access participating]
Day 4 [Friday, September 5] 09:00 – 10:30. IGF Main Venue [Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center]
Workshop Room 08 (Rumeli -1 Floor/Room 4)
This IGF roundtable is an opportunity for participants to consider the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on privacy in the Digital Rights. The session will provide recommendation and offer suggested inputs to the UN HRC session that will follow the IGF, including the Council’s multi-stakeholder panel on September 12th. It is also a great opportunity also for the HRC to receive timely inputs from a multistakeholder process that will assist its work.